International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ntaganda’s Lawyers Support Holding Closing Statements in Bunia, Congo

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges trying former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda are considering hearing the closing statements in his trial from Africa, either in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the crimes he is on trial for were committed or “at a location relatively proximate to it.”

In response, Ntaganda’s lawyers have said they support the closing statements being heard in the eastern Congo town of Bunia, which they termed “the place closest to the persons most interested” by Ntaganda’s trial.

However, they warned that taking the hearing far from Bunia, for example to Congo’s capital Kinshasa or to Arusha, Tanzania “would not be meaningful and [would] actually defeat the purpose sought.” Arusha, where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sat, … Continue Reading

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Les avocats de M. Ntaganda soutiennent la tenue des déclarations finales à Bunia, au Congo

Les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) devant juger l’ancien chef rebelle Bosco Ntaganda envisagent le fait d’entendre les déclarations finales de ce procès depuis l’Afrique, soit en République démocratique du Congo où les crimes pour lesquels il est jugé ont été commis soit « dans un lieu relativement proche de celle-ci ».

En réponse, les avocats de M. Ntaganda ont déclaré qu’ils soutenaient le fait que les déclarations finales soient entendues dans la ville de Bunia, dans l’est du Congo, qu’ils ont qualifiés de « lieu le plus proche des personnes les plus intéressées » par le procès Ntaganda.

Ils ont cependant averti que si les audiences étaient tenues loin de Bunia, par exemple dans la capitale du Congo, Kinshasa ou à Arusha, en Tanzanie, … Continue Reading

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Civil Society in Uganda Outraged by Controversial Newspaper Article Clearing Ugandan Army of Committing War Crimes

As the trial of Dominic Ongwen continues at the International Criminal Court (ICC), civil society practitioners and community members in Uganda were left infuriated by a newspaper article purporting that the ICC had cleared the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) of war crimes in northern Uganda. The article appeared in the New Vision newspaper on January 4, 2018, titled: “ICC Clears UPDF of War Crimes,” and immediately resulted in strong reactions on Facebook and questions on Twitter, as well as on other social media platforms. As it turned out, however, the headline and portions of the accompanying article were taken out of context.

The authors of the article based their headline on remarks by Dahirou Sant-Anna, the international cooperation adivisor in … Continue Reading

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How Guatemala is Choosing Its Next Attorney General

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor will be providing regular situation reports. Today, we provide an explanation of the process itself.

Legal Framework

Guatemala’s constitution established Nominating Commissions (Comisiónes de Postulación) in order to guard against the politicization of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice, Courts of Appeal, and other collegiate tribunals. The commissions are also intended to protect against politicization of the appointment of the attorney general or any other public positions relevant to the consolidation of the rule of law … Continue Reading

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L’âge des enfants soldats au centre du témoignage enregistré du témoin admis en tant que preuve au procès Ntaganda

Ayant réduit le nombre de leurs témoins de 110 à 40, les avocats de Bosco Ntaganda soumettent également le témoignage enregistré de plusieurs témoins au lieu de les appeler à la barre en personne. Ceci a réduit le temps pendant lequel la défense présentera ses éléments lors du procès Ntaganda pour crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité qui se tient devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI).

Les juges ont récemment accédé à une demande de la défense d’admettre le témoignage préalablement enregistré de six témoins de la défense. La défense a soutenu que le fait d’appeler des témoins pour témoigner au sujet d’informations spécifiques ne serait pas dans l’intérêt d’un procès rapide ou d’une utilisation efficace des ressources de la Cour.

Les déclarations ont … Continue Reading

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Child Soldiers’ Age at Center of Recorded Witness Testimony Admitted Into Ntaganda Trial Evidence

Having cut the number of their witnesses from 110 to about 40, Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers are also submitting recorded testimony of several witnesses as opposed to calling them to testify in person. This has reduced the time over which the defense will present its case in Ntaganda’s trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Judges have recently granted a defense application to admit the prior recoded testimony of six defense witnesses. The defense submitted that calling witnesses to testify about very specific information would not be in the interest of an expeditious trial or the efficient use of court resources.

The statements were admitted under the court’s Rule 68(2)(b), which provides that if the witness … Continue Reading

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The Kavumu Trial: Complementarity in Action in the Democratic Republic of Congo

On December 13, 2017, in a landmark decision, a military court in South Kivu convicted 11 Congolese militia members of murder and rape as crimes against humanity. The court, which was deployed as a “mobile court” in the village of Kavumu, found that the accused constituted an armed group controlled by provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike that had carried out the rapes of 40 young girls. All 11 men, including Batumike, were sentenced to life imprisonment.

This was the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that a sitting parliamentarian was found guilty for crimes under international law. This judgment also brought closure to a case that spanned almost five years and came to epitomize the scourge of sexual violence … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies About LRA Commander Repeatedly Raping and Beating Her

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) she was repeatedly subjected to sexual violence by a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army to whom she had been given as “wife.”

Witness P-374 told the court on Tuesday she was abducted by members of the LRA’s Sinia brigade, and she was given to a commander in that brigade. At the time she of her abduction, the witness said that she was in Primary Six, or the sixth year of primary school.

The witness testified in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged with crimes he is alleged to have committed while a commander in Sinia brigade between July 2002 and December 2005. He is facing eight counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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Lubanga to Appeal US$ 10 Million Reparations Award to Victims

Thomas Lubanga is seeking to appeal the International Criminal Court (ICC) order that set his financial liability for reparations to victims of his crimes at US$ 10 million. The former Congolese rebel leader argues that this amount is excessive and contests the eligibility of several victims to receive reparations.

Defense lawyer Catherine Mabille says that in assessing the extent of damage and loss and injury to victims, judges erroneously included several ineligible victims, including “hundreds, if not thousands” of unidentified individuals who had not applied to the court for reparations.

She contends that the US$ 10 million award does not reflect Lubanga’s criminal responsibility and further argues that it was erroneous for the award to exceed the US$ 6 million which victims’ … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Hearings Resume with Testimony Challenging Witness Who Alleged Sexual Relations in Congolese Militia

On Monday, the defense for war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda presented a witness to challenge the testimony of a prosecution witness who testified about allegations of non-consensual sexual relations within the militia that Ntaganda commanded.

In the brief moments of open court, he said he was a trader in eastern Congo’s Ituri province during the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict, when Ntaganda and his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) fighters allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In an October 2017 application to add Witness D207 to its list of witnesses, the defense stated that his anticipated testimony directly contradict the testimony of prosecution Witness P898.

However, challenging the defense request, the prosecution stated that Witness D207’s proposed testimony was not relevant as it … Continue Reading

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